The challenge for the soil science community to contribute to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by 193 Governments at the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2015 for achievement by 2030. These SDGs present a roadmap to a sustainable future and a challenge to the science community. To guide activities and check progress, targets and indicators have been and are still being defined. The soil science community has published documents that describe the primary importance of soil for SDGs addressing hunger, water quality, climate mitigation and biodiversity preservation, and secondary relevance of soil for addressing several other SDGs. Soil scientists only marginally participated in the SDG discussions and are currently only peripherally engaged in discussions on targets or indicators. Agreement on several soil‐related indicators has still not been achieved. Involvement of soil scientists in SDG‐based studies is desirable for both developing solutions and increasing the visibility of the soil profession. Inputs into policy decisions should be improved as SDG committee members are appointed by Governments. Possible contributions of soil science in defining indicators for the SDGs are explored in this paper. We advocate the pragmatic use of soil–water–atmosphere–plant simulation models and available soil surveys and soil databases where “representative” soil profiles for mapping units (genetically defined genoforms) are functionally expressed in terms of several phenoforms reflecting effects of different types of soil use and management that strongly affect functionality.